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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 61

The president recently did interviews with network correspondents. The White House website includes no transcripts.

DIANE SAWYER: Looking at each end of the spectrum of possibilities, if Gadhafi ends up in a villa some place in Zimbabwe with no war crimes trial, is that OK with you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well -- you know, that's not going to be my decision alone. I will tell you, though that -- the first step is for Gadhafi to send a signal that he understands -- the Libyan people -- don't want him ruling anymore. That 40 years of tyranny is enough. And -- you know, once he makes that decision -- I think the international community will come together, and make a determination -- as to what -- the most appropriate -- way of facilitating him stepping down will be. I certainly will be supportive of him -- being removed from power. And -- we're going to have to examine what our options are after that.

Hill: The supreme allied commander for NATO said today that there are flickers of al Qaeda and Hezbollah amongst these rebels. How do we know what their end goal is? And how do we know they won't, in fact, turn on the U.S. and on our allies?

Mr. Obama: Well, first of all, I think it's important to note that the people that we've met with have been fully vetted, so we have a clear sense of who they are, and so far they're saying the right things, and most of them are professionals, lawyers, doctors, people who appear to be credible. That doesn't mean that all the people, among all the people who opposed Qaddafi there might not be elements that are unfriendly to the United States and our interests.

That's why I think it's important for us not to jump in with both feet but to carefully consider: What are the goals of the opposition? What kind of transition do they want to bring about inside of Libya? Because our main concern here is the Libyan people as well as stability in the region.

Due respect, Mr. President, watching the reportings of our two correspondents in Libya. What it appears the rebels need is military equipment. Some of their equipment dates back to World War II. Are you ruling out U.S. military hardware assistance?

I'm not ruling it out. But I'm also not ruling it in. We're still making an assessment partly about what Khadaffy's forces are going to be doing. Keep in mind, we've been at this now for nine days. And the degree to which we've degraded Khadaffy's forces in those nine days has been significant.

Operations to protect civilians continue to take out Khadaffy's forces, his tanks, his artillery on the ground, and that will continue for some time. And so one of the questions that we want to answer is: do we start getting to a stage where Khadaffy's forces are sufficiently degraded, where it may not be necessary to arm opposition groups.

But we're not taking anything off the table at this point. Our primary military goal is to protect civilian populations and to set up the no-fly zone. Our primary strategic goal is for Khadaffy to step down so that the Libyan people have an opportunity to live a decent life.